Optical Edge- Design and Merchandising

Optical Merchandising

Having designed over 18 optometry offices, I am always surprised that most optometric practices that I pass by are generic in look, and are about as exciting as going into a drug store.  I have gone into many stores where there are a lot of glasses displayed, but there is no order.  Mismatched display systems clutter the floor.  Advertising collateral will be scattered randomly and taped up, with no concern for aesthetics.  The dispensing area is messy.  The overall impression is one of disorder and chaos.

What do you think this communicates to your patients?  That you have a cutting-edge practice that uses the latest medical technology for eye care? That you are up to date on the latest styles and frames?  That you care about the individual and that you are a unique practice? 

A successful optometric practice is supported by three things: service, product, and environment.  If any of these aspects of your business is weak, the patient will be dissatisfied and find another optometrist.

That is why it is important to have your practice distinguish itself from the other competitors by a design that reflect the professionalism and the attention to detail that you give to your patients, which will in turn, attract the type of patients that you want to work with.   Although the practice of optometry is a medical practice, the profits lie in the sales of eyewear.  Maximizing the retail experience for your patients is a no brainer.  It is important to look at how successful retailers display objects, and what works.

Optical Merchandising Displays

It’s the eyewear dummy! This may seem like a simple idea, but a successful optometric practice must entice the patient immediately upon entering the store; actually, even before they enter the store, they need to understand that they are walking by an optometric practice.  Since eyewear is small, what visual clues can you give?  A logo can do wonders.  Is there some eye-catching display or color that will make the passerby stop and look?  Many of our optometric practices are based on visual games to give interest to the store beyond the superficial.  We do try to design stores that are modern yet not gimmicky, so that they have a long shelf life.

As eyewear has become a fashion accessory, optometric practices have been forced to become fashion forward. It is critical to keep current especially in this competitive market, regardless of  the clientele you service.  Even discount retailers are interested in making sure that their product moves.

Most optometric practices are over-merchandised, overwhelming the shopping experience.  By organizing the eyewear into understandable/ logical groupings, one can display the same amount of product, yet make a stronger impression on the client. In fact it is best to show less and allow the patient to be curious about what other styles might be available.  This allows for an opportunity for a much more personable interaction between the patient and the staff which is critical for a successful sale.

Lighting is critical in the display of eyewear.  Have you noticed that when you go into a jewelry store, the diamonds sparkle?  The lighting levels may be low in other areas of the store, but the display cases are well lit.  Similarly, eyewear needs to be properly lit.  The typical backlit frame board do not work as they do not allow you to see the frames, forcing you to stare at a illuminated background.  Also, it is important for your patients to look good in the space.  Similar to fashion, if the lighting is bad, the clothes will not sell.

Ultimately if you are starting a new practice or thinking of remodeling, this is a great opportunity to personalize your space and distinguish yourself from the competition.

Large retail chains have a certain branding that is consistent, yet bland, as it is the same everywhere.  Why go with a prefabricated display system that anyone could buy when you have the opportunity to create a unique statement? By showing your individuality, you will be demonstrating to your patients your personal style and concern for high quality design; ultimately matching the eyewear with the environment

Submitted by John Lum, Architect/Interior Designer- Focus Group West

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